Food loving things to do on holidays in Sicily

Sicilian food is probably the best in the world. Just look at how many fatties there are in Sicily if you don’t believe me! (I should probably stop making fun of fatties these days; after ten years in Sicily, I am one of them.)

Sicilians cassata or "cheesecake"
Sicilians cassata or “cheesecake”

 

SICILIAN FOOD: THE ORIGINAL FUSION CUISINE

Read this post to get an overview of the different influences on Sicilian cuisine. It will give you the best possible inspiration on how to experience each of the cultures that influenced modern Sicily, through the foods they brought to the island.

The History of Sicilian Cuisine in Thirteen Invasions

ALLERGIES AND SPECIAL DIETS

Do you have celiac disease (gluten allergy) or other food allergies? Sicily is probably the best place in the world to come on holiday.

  • There are gluten-free bakeries, gluten-free pizzerias and gluten-free supermarkets.
  • By law, a restaurant advertising “gluten Free” has to have an entirely separate kitchen where gluten never crosses the threshold, and the gluten-free bakeries do impose this rule.
  • If your allergy is not this severe, though, the vast majority of restaurants do have packs of gluten-free pasta and often gluten-free bread as well: you just have to ask. They are very careful not to cross-contaminate using the same spoon.

Sicilians are very accomodating of – and knowledgeable about – other allergies and dietary restrictions, too. Sometimes it feels as if everyone in Sicily has a diabetic relative!

  • The level of public understanding of dietary needs for diabetics is remarkable.
  • Allergies are taken very seriously, too. I always walk into restaurants and present the waiter with my long and extremely challenging list of food allergies, and get an a la carte meal created just for me.  I have only once, ever, found a restaurant that was not willing to modify its menu. If you need to know the complete list of ingredients you just have to ask. If it’s baked on the premises the cook will appear, and if it’s ready-made they will almost always show you the printed ingredients.

FRUIT AND VEGETABLE SEASONS

You will need to know what is in season in the month you visit. May is the best month of all, but there’s something lovely every month.

Fruit and vegetable seasons

VISIT CASTELBUONO, CENTRE OF THE SLOW FOOD MOVEMENT

Castelbuono is Foodie Central in Sicily. If you are a foodie and want to try a lot of unusual foods, you need to base yourself in this gorgeous Medieval town full of organic sausage-makers, harvesters of manna, producers of exceptional wines, stirrers of mandarin sorbet, carvers of artwork from fruit, and makers of the best panettone in the world.

Castelbuono the Foodies paradise in Sicily

SICILIAN STREET FOOD

Sicilians eat a lot of street foods made from offal. The most famous of all is the spleen sandwich (pane ca meusa in Sicilian or, for cowards like me, it’s called panino con la milza in Italian). Legend has it that the Jews, who are forbidden from eating offal by the laws of kosher, gave it away to the poor of Palermo, who became creative in preparing it tastily. Nowadays, some of the street offal chefs of Palermo have become celebrities.

The Celebrity Chefs of Palermo – They’re Offal!

Palermo bucket list: 9 street foods you must try [external link to Secret Sicily website]

NUTS AND SEEDS

Nuts and seeds are a classic Sicilian steeet snack sold at religious festivals and some other events. They come in all varieties – raw, roasted or coated in crispy sugary stuff. The market stalls that sell them are works of art.

Fancy some nuts?

RAW CHOCOLATE

The Spanish invaders at the time of the Inquisition brought chocolate to Sicily, along with the Aztec recipe that everyone was using back then. In Sicily, you do NOT mess with a recipe you learned from your grandma or father, so in the beautiful Spanish Baroque town of Modica, direct descendants of those first chocolate-making families are still making bars of organic, raw chocolate using that old Aztec recipe.

Aztec chocolate is still made in Modica, Sicily – and it’s the best I’ve ever eaten

MANNA – A BIBLICAL FOOD YOU THOUGHT WAS JUST MADE UP

The only place in the world you can eat the Biblical food manna is the Sicilian town of Castelbuono, where people harvest this tree sap when it dries into sticks. Manna from heaven saved the Israelites in the desert – Manna from Castelbuono may be one of the highlights of your holiday in Sicily!

Manna from Heaven? Or from Sicily?

manna-castelbuono

 

SEA FOOD AND SNAILS

Sicilians make tasty meals out of snails, sea urchins, octopus, and quite a few other things not regarded as food in other parts of the world. Give them a go while in Sicily!

Snails for dinner, anyone?

Sea Urchins, Anyone?

A THOUSAND-YEAR-OLD FRUIT GARDEN

The Garden of the Kolymbetra lies inside the archaeological site of the valley of the Temples that was once the ancient Greek city of Akragas (Agrigento). The Greeks originally built it as a reflecting pool with ornamental fish and swans, but the Moors filled it with every type of citrus tree and all the other fruits and vegetables grown and eaten in Sicily. You can tour the lush garden and buy samples of fruit and veg to eat, including jars of delicious citrus jam.

pomegranate

MARZIPAN WORKS OF ART

Marzipan, or martorana, is a delicious food that’s also a form of art in Sicily. For i Morti (The day of the dead at Hallowe’en) they make beautiful marzipan fruits and other foods and at Easter they make adorable marzipan lambs.

What do Dead People Eat?

Happy Easter!

SEA SALT

You can explore the ancient Phoenician sea-salt farm at the Infersa salt works in Marsala. You can climb up inside a windmill or even spend a day working there yourself. The windmills among sparkling white hills made of salt offer amazing photo opportunities – like the sunset below.

How do you get Edible Salt out of the Sea?

saline-di-marsala

 

Something to get you in a Sicilian mood

Veronica Di Grigoli’s new comedy novel

An English woman takes on parenthood, the Mafia and a Sicilian mother-in-law, all at once

AN ENGLISH WOMAN TAKES ON PARENTHOOD, THE MAFIA AND A SICILIAN MOTHER-IN-LAW, ALL AT ONCE

Buy it on Amazon.com

Buy it on Amazon.co.uk

It’s available in paperback and Kindle on all Amazon websites worldwide

 

Advertisements

So, what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s